Wabash begins the 2010 football season with a new field, new scoreboard, and new players in several key positions. The Little Giants face the College of Wooster at home Saturday to open the season.
The Little Giants lost 10 starters to graduation from a 2009 team that finished 9-2 with a North Coast Athletic Conference record of 6-1. Wabash earned a berth in the NCAA football playoffs for the third consecutive season, and second in a row under Head Coach Erik Raeburn.
Raeburn begins his third season at the helm with a talented group of wide receivers, led by Kody LeMond and Wes Chamblee. The duo combined to catch 125 passes for 1,837 yards and 20 TDs. Chamblee earned All-America honors as a return specialist. He led the nation in punt return average at the end of the regular season (17.6 ypr).
Tommy Mambourg, Derrick Yoder, and Kyle Stevens return in the backfield for Wabash. The trio was part of a group of running backs that averaged 152 rushing yards per game in 2009.
Chase Belton earns the start at quarterback Saturday versus Wooster. The sophomore from Dayton, Ohio got his first career start at Wooster last season, throwing for 283 yards and four scores. Five offensive linemen will be starting for the first time in front of Belton Saturday, but all five have previous game experience heading into the 2010 season.
The Little Giants return only four starters on defense, but nearly everyone in this year's starting lineup has seen significant playing time previously. CJ Gum begins his senior season at linebacker as Wabash's top returning defensive player from last season. Gum led the Little Giants in tackles with 82 in 2009. Jake Martin was third on the team in tackles. The defensive back also snared four interceptions as a junior. Jake Kolisek started every game at defensive tackle in 2009, finishing with 20 tackles and 2-1/2 tackles for losses. JD McClintic made 14 tackles in six starts last season, as well.
Wabash will dedicate a new playing surface prior to Saturday's kickoff. The College installed FieldTurf Duraspine Pro at Hollett Little Giant Stadium over the summer. The artificial surface is the same that is utilized by 21 NFL teams, including the Indianapolis Colts' games at Lucas Oil Stadium.
A new scoreboard was also erected in the east endzone. The scoreboard provides easier viewing for fans throughout the stadium, and has a message board to display important information throughout the game.
Saturday's game can be viewed live over the Internet on the Wabash web site, thanks to production from Hometown Television and a sponsorship by the Shelbourne Knee Center. The broadcast begins a few minutes prior to the 1 p.m. kickoff. The game can also be heard locally over the radio at 91.3-FM WNDY, the student radio station.
The Little Giants will host their annual Youth Clinic Friday afternoon beginning at 5 p.m. at Hollett Little Giant Stadium. The clinic is free of charge and open to boys and girls in grades K-6.